Despite the claims of creationists and other ideological opponents of evolution, the so-called Santorum Amendment - which, by singling out evolution as uniquely "controversial", was apparently intended to discourage evolution education - was not included in the No Child Left Behind Act, passed by Congress in late 2001 and signed into law by President Bush in early 2002. Although the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference contains a brief and not as objectionable mention of evolution, the Joint Explanatory Statement is not part of the law as enacted. Teachers in particular should be aware that the No Child Left Behind Act in no way requires them to teach evolution any differently than they do now.
On June 13, 2001, the US Senate adopted a Sense of the Senate amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Authorization bill, S 1, then under consideration. Proposed by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), the amendment read:
It is the sense of the Senate that (1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and (2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why the subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.
As Eric Meikle explained (RNCSE 2000 Nov-Dec; 20 : 4), the fact that evolution is singled out as uniquely controversial amply indicates the amendment's anti-evolutionary intention. There were several indications that "intelligent design" proponents were instrumental in framing the resolution. In proposing the amendment, Senator Santorum cited a law review article coauthored by "intelligent design" proponent David K DeWolf, professor of law at Gonzaga University and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture. And the godfather of the "intelligent design" movement, Phillip Johnson, was quoted in the June 18 Washington Times as having "helped frame the language" of the amendment.
On June 14, the bill, including the Santorum Amendment, passed the Senate 91-8. It seems likely that most of the senators who voted for the bill were unaware of the antievolution implications of the Santorum Amendment, although Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Robert Byrd (D-WV) alluded to them in their remarks in the Congressional Record. Unsurprisingly, anti-evolution groups such as Answers in Genesis were quick to rejoice at the token of support for their cause embodied in the Santorum Amendment.
Because HR 1, the version of the bill that passed in the House of Representatives, contained no counterpart of the Santorum Amendment, the House-Senate Conference Committee needed to reconsider it when it met to reconcile the two versions of the bill. Thus there was still a chance for the scientific and educational communities to influence the outcome. And they seized the day. The officers of almost 100 scientific and educational societies, together representing over 100 000 scientists, called upon the chairs of the conference committee to drop the Santorum Amendment. (See RNCSE 2001; 21 [1-2]: 7 for the text of their letter.)
In December 2001, the joint committee finished its work. The compromise bill was submitted to Congress, which passed it (renaming it the No Child Left Behind Act in the process) and sent it to President Bush for his signature, which it duly received on January 8, 2002.
The good news is twofold. First, the Santorum Amendment was substantially weakened during its stay in committee, eventually appearing in the following two sentences:
The conferees recognize that a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science. Where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society.
Note that evolution is no longer singled out as uniquely controversial: it is merely used as one example of a host of potentially controversial topics. The conference committee's wish to keep "religious and philosophical claims that are made in the name of science" out of the science classroom is, of course, fully supported by NCSE. "Creation science", including "intelligent design", indeed consists largely of religious and philosophical claims that are disguised as science, and that is why NCSE opposes its presence in the science classrooms of our nation's public schools. Note also that the Santorum Amendment's original desire for students "to be informed participants in public discussions" was replaced with the conference committee's desire for students "to understand the full range of scientific views" - although creationism might be regarded as a matter of public discussion, it is certainly not a scientific view.
Second, the Santorum Amendment, even in its weakened form, is not present in the bill that was signed into law. It appears only in the Conference Report, buried deep in the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference in Title I, Part A, as item 78. The Joint Explanatory Statement is not part of the bill itself; it is simply an explanation of how the conference committee reconciled the various provisions of the House and Senate versions of the bill. The law itself neither mentions evolution nor includes any sentiments reflecting the Santorum Amendment. Thus the No Child Left Behind Act in no way requires teachers to teach evolution any differently.
It appears as if the conference committee largely heeded the call of the officers of the scientific and educational societies. The Santorum Amendment was dropped from the bill; the fact that a weakened version of it was included in the Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference, where it enjoys no force of law, was probably intended to appease religiously conservative constituents - politics is, after all, the art of compromise.
The bad news is that many creationists and other ideological opponents of evolution took the Santorum Amendment and jumped on the propaganda bandwagon with it. In a press release dated December 21, 2001, with the headline "Congress gives victory to scientific critics of Darwin", Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute, announced, "The education bill just passed by Congress calls for greater openness to the study of current controversies in science, notably including biological evolution." Although he evidently recognized that the Santorum Amendment was substantially weakened and that the weakened version appeared not in the bill but only in the conference committee report - writing that "What began as the 'Santorum Amendment' … now resides in report language" - he nevertheless misleadingly characterized the bill as "a substantial victory for scientific critics of Darwin's theory and for all who would like science instruction to exercise thoroughness and fairness in teaching about contemporary science controversies." Interestingly, Chapman harped on Darwin and Darwinists, although Darwin's name never appeared in the Santorum Amendment; the Discovery Institute's practice of tendentiously equating evolution and "Darwinism" is documented by Skip Evans in "Doubting Darwinism by creative license" (see RNCSE 2001; 21 [5-6]: 22-3).
Then, apparently in response to a precursor of the present report posted on the NCSE web site, the Discovery Institute issued a further press release on December 28, 2001, entitled "Congress urges teaching of diverse views on evolution, but Darwinists try to deny it". It also appeared in a slightly revised form as "Deny, deny, deny" by John West in WorldNetDaily. In both versions, West contended that NCSE originally was wholeheartedly against the Santorum Amendment and then, when it appeared in weakened form in the conference committee report, opportunistically engaged in "after-the-fact attempts to rewrite history" by praising the conference committee's wish to keep "religious and philosophical claims that are made in the name of science" out of the science classroom. Needless to say, he misrepresented NCSE's views: it was only clause (2)of the Santorum Amendment that was intrinsically objectionable.
The Discovery Institute was misleading on the status of the Santorum Amendment vis-à-vis the bill that was signed into law, but Phyllis Schlafly of the conservative Eagle Forum was downright wrong. In an editorial posted on the conservative web site TownHall.com on February 6, 2002, Schlafly wrote:
The "No Child Left Behind" bill signed by President Bush on Jan 8 includes a science requirement that focuses on "the data and testable theories of science". This new federal law specifies that "where topics are taught that may generate controversy (such as biological evolution), the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist."
Because Schlafly was discussing the ongoing controversy about state science standards in Ohio, she may have been relying on misinformation about the Santorum Amendment posted on SEAO's web site, which was later corrected. To give credit where credit is due, the anti-evolutionist ministry Answers in Genesis recognized that the fact that the Santorum Amendment was not present in the No Child Left Behind Act was a defeat for the anti-evolution movement. In "Honest science 'left behind' in US education bill", posted at the AIG web site on January 7, 2002, Mike Matthews emphasizes that "The final version of the bill … says not one word about evolution or the controversy surrounding it" and remarks in a footnote that "The original Senate amendment was 'watered down' in two senses", citing the same changes of wording cited above.
Nevertheless, expect to see distorted reports of the Santorum Amendment in the antievolution press from now on. As we know from long experience, creationist misinformation is hard to quash.
Darwin … believed that God could not be responsible for nature's carnage and inefficiency, so he proposed a purely naturalistic explanation. Evolution was a theodicy, and keeping this in mind helps explain the different responses to evolution, including those critics such as Hodge and the theistic evolutionists. This perspective also helps explain how those who accept evolution wholeheartedly can be content with evidence that establishes merely the plausibility of evolution (p 173-4).Hunter quotes a statement from the National Academy of Sciences that "No body of beliefs that has its origin in doctrinal material rather than scientific observation, interpretation and experimentation should be admissible as science in any science class", and he concludes that on this criterion evolution should not be taught in science classes because it includes religious presuppositions outside of science. His final sentence is: "Ultimately, evolution is about God" (p 175).
There can be no real doubt as to Darwin's theism during the years that he prepared for and wrote the Origin. Aside from the strong evidence in his writing, he tells us in his Autobiography that the need for postulating an intelligent First Cause as initiating the universe – a belief implied in the theological arguments in the Origin – "was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the Origin of Species." When Dr Pusey seemed to accuse him of having written the Origin as an attack on religion and not as science, Darwin replied indignantly that Pusey was "mistaken in imagining that I wrote the Origin with any relation whatever to theology" (not exactly the case, as we have seen), and that "when I was collecting facts for the Origin, my belief in what is called a personal God was as firm as that of Dr Pusey himself."Theodicy is not listed in the index of Gillespie's book. In light of this, I find Hunter's thesis difficult to accept. Elsewhere (p 133) Gillespie notes that later in his life, in the passage that concludes The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Darwin presents us with the quandary that he himself never resolved: if God is omnipotent and omniscient then it is hard to see why he is not also irrational and even immoral in producing superfluous laws of nature and waste of life. "Thus we are brought face to face with a difficulty as insoluble as that of free will and predestination." Darwin certainly recognized that his work involved the problem of theodicy, but that is completely different from Hunter's claim that it was consideration of theodicy that led Darwin to advance his theory of evolution.
There is absolutely no foundation whatsoever for the belief in evolution ... People still produce people, cats produce a cat, dogs a dog, birds a bird, monkeys a monkey, etc. ... I beg of you to get down on your knees and cry out to God to give you wisdom and understanding.Others used personal attacks to express their concerns about what evolution meant for their attractiveness and ego:
... if you want to claim relation to the ugly apes go right ahead ... ( undated letter)
Having seen your picture it is easy to understand why you would want to argue and teach that you evolved from this lineage. (undated letter)
You go right ahead Mrs Epperson and teach the ugly theory of evolution - because from the way you looked on TV, it could be true that man and woman did evolve from apes (letter dated, April 2, 1966, emphasis in original).
No wonder you want Arkansas to let you teach evolution in school; to look at you and your old Dad anyone would think you and he both started from a big old baboon. He looks like one and you look like a tailless monkey. ... America needs Bible teachers, not things like you. I pity your Mother for giving birth to such a girl. (anonymous and undated letter, Wichita Falls TX)Others, though, apparently fearing that Epperson was an intellectual carpetbagger intent on forcing a new type of academic reconstruction on Arkansas's public schools, connected evolution with antiracism. The link was pointed out explicitly in an editorial entitled "Arkansas begins fight for freedom to teach" that appeared in The Ohio State Lantern on January 21, 1966:
And as for [Governor] Faubus - who used National Guard troops to prevent integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1958 - he probably finds the theory [of evolution] distasteful because, among other reasons, it implies that Negroes and Caucasians came from the same ancestorThe antiracism implications of evolution upset many people. Here's a portion of an anonymous letter to Epperson dated December 9, 1966:
If ... them cocoanut-heads [sic] up there want to believe there [sic] foreFathers [sic] are monkeys, apes, or gorillas, its [sic] OK, but don't let them shove it down our throat like Johnson did the Civil Rights law ... If I was a teacher, the first nigger that walked in my classroom I would walk out ... and don't think I wouldn't.A similar link between racism and Epperson's lawsuit was made in a letter to Epperson dated May 1, 1966:
I can imagine, you refer to the Negroes ... One of many things [that] makes me mad at the Welfare Department. Pays Negroes to increase their population by leaps and bounds... [If] this actually enters court, it will sure scramble the Civil Rights Bill, I hope.Others made more subtle, yet equally revealing, statements about the link they assumed between racism and evolution. For example, one letter writer closed his "Easter Sunday 1966" missive attacking Epperson with a telling postscript: "P.S. I'm white, too."
NCSE stands by its analysis: in NCSE's view, and in the view of the majority of the authors of the publications in the bibliography who responded to NCSE's questionnaire, the DI's bibliography document is inaccurate, tendentious, and misleading. Moreover, despite the DI's desperate claim that "[t]he educational value of the articles is self-evident", NCSE reiterates that the bibliography is of no conceivable pedagogical value to K-12 science education. NCSE urges the Ohio Board of Education to rely on the expertise of the writing committee, scientists, educators, and fellow Ohio citizens, who have invested their valuable knowledge and countless hours in producing a superlative set of science standards.On April 15, a revised version of the DI rebuttal, containing neither the word "malicious" nor any claim about the pedagogical value of the publications in the Bibliography, appeared at http://www.discovery.org/articleFiles/PDFs/quesAndAnsNCSECritiqueOfBib.pdf.
Creationists have developed a skill unique to their trade: that of misquotation and quotation out of context from the works of leading evolutionists. This tactic not only frustrates scientists but it misleads school board members, legislators, and the public. Whether such actions by creationists of selectively seeking out quotations or references in order to prove a preconceived case are willful distortion or the product of wishful thinking is irrelevant. Such acts misuse science and scientists in bogus appeals to authority (Cole 1981: 34).The practice is so frequent among creationists (and other practitioners of pseudoscience) that it receives a name: quote-mining. There are even books devoted to nothing but quote-mining (such as Morris 1998). Quote-mining adds nothing to the discussion of scientific issues and generally confuses the nonspecialist with misleading and inaccurate interpretations of the original research - which, of course, is its goal.
Is it not fitting that, as intellectual beings with such high powers, we should each of us acquire a knowledge of what past generations have taught us, so that, should the opportunity occur, we may be able to add somewhat, however small, to the fund of instruction for posterity? Shall we not then feel the satisfaction of having done all in our power to improve by culture those higher faculties that distinguish us from the brutes, that none of the talents with which we may have been gifted have been suffered to lie altogether idle? And, lastly, can any reflecting mind have a doubt that, by improving to the utmost the nobler faculties of our nature in this world, we shall be the better fitted to enter upon and enjoy whatever new state of being the future may have in store for us?No one has ever heeded his own good advice better than Wallace did. Born poor but with an intense native curiosity, he worked as a surveyor to his mid-20s before abandoning that occupation to turn professional natural history collector. He spent the years 1848-1852 in the Amazon Valley, then the even longer period 1854-1862 in the Indonesian archipelago (then known as the "Malay Archipelago"), collecting up a storm. His 12-year stint in the tropics would eventually make him famous — not only for his formulation of the theory of natural selection, but as the father of the modern approach to biogeography, and arguably as history's foremost field biologist and tropical naturalist.
If today we continue to be worried about the relationship between Darwinism and Christian belief, more often than not it is because we are faced either with science masquerading as theology or with theology masquerading as science. Only history can show us the full extent of the damage that is done by such pretense (p 266).The fourth part is "Theological Perspectives". The authors include some of the leading contemporary theologians who strive to combine both good evolutionary science and good theology in their quests to find the proper relationship between these two important domains of intellectual endeavor.
No chance, no evolution of the universe. If it were not such an impossible oxymoron, chance might even be called a law of nature itself. Chance, consequently, is not an alternative to law, but the very means whereby law is creative. The two are strongly interrelated and the universe evolves through their interplay (p 358).For evolutionary biologists, this passage should immediately bring to mind Sewall Wright's seminal ideas on the interplay between natural selection and genetic drift.
But how do we know whether the created ancestors of M genitalium or M pneumoniae had the ability to synthesize amino acids? Could the lack of amino acid synthesis genes be a design feature of this baramin? (Wood 2001: iii)First of all, a lack of biosynthetic capacity is a common feature in many pathogenic bacteria, and genomic reduction is a hallmark of strict parasites (Andersson and others 1998; Ogata and others 2001; Fraser and others 1997; Fraser and others 1998; Kalman and others 1999; Stephens and others 1998; Read and others 2000). Therefore there is nothing unusual about the lack of biosynthetic machinery in the mycoplasmas.
Finally, Wood wishes to construct a framework for how mycoplasmas became human parasites after the Fall. To do so, he compares his ideas with mainstream thoughts on the evolution of parasitism. Wood writes: In the evolutionary model, pathogenicity and parasitism is thought to progress from very virulent (aggressive) forms to harmless or even mutually beneficial relationships. Advocates claim that natural selection will favor hosts that are resistant to the parasite and parasites that are not rapid killers of their own host environments. Thus as time progresses, the parasites evolve to less virulent forms and the hosts become tolerant of the more benign forms of the parasites (Wood 2001: iii).Instead, Wood argues, God created the mycoplasmas as mutualists or commensals that became parasites after the Fall. The adaptation to parasitism included degradation of the mycoplasmal genome. Thus, the evolutionary scenario is challenged by the Creation/Fall model, which predicts just the opposite.
To the extent that natural selection favors evolution of reduced parasite virulence (see also subsequent discussion), parasite interactions may evolve gradually toward commensalisms and ultimately even become mutualistic interactions. Of course, selection could also proceed in the opposite direction (reverse arrows). Such changes may also occur during ecological time, as during the ontogeny of parasites (Pianka 1999: 323-5).Pianka then gives examples of natural selection's decreasing virulence in the case of the myxoma and influenza viruses and increasing virulence in malarial parasites (Pianka 1999). Therefore the result of natural selection on the virulence of parasites is not a simple equation that applies to every case. Pianka closes this discussion with the statement "natural selection should favor levels of virulence for parasites with different types of transmission between hosts" (Pianka 1999). Thus Wood has contrasted his own recent creationist view with an inaccurate rendition of contemporary evolutionary thinking regarding parasitism, which amounts to the construction of a straw man.
My thesis is that molecular biologists used "information" as a metaphor for biological specificity. However, "information" is a metaphor of a metaphor and thus a signifier without a referent, a catachresis. As such, it became a rich repository for the scientific imaginaries of the genetic code as an information system and a Book of Life. The information discourse and the scriptural representations of life were inextricably linked. Metaphors, as I will examine, are ubiquitous in science, but not all metaphors are created equal. Some, like the information and code metaphors, are exceptionally potent due to the richness of their symbolisms, their synchronic and diachronic linkages and their scientific and cultural valences (p 2).After reading the book jacket, the preface and the first chapter, one is left with the question "Who is the target audience for this book?" As best I can tell, it is aimed at professional science historians. The writing is too difficult and unfriendly to be aimed at the amateur science history enthusiast. Furthermore, the author assumes that the reader already is familiar with the history and the individuals involved. A simple, limited biography on each of the key individuals at the end of the text would have gone a long way to help the reader. It is likely that a neophyte enthusiast who managed to maintain interest while wading through the difficult text would quickly be confused and frustrated by the constant infusion of new names, all without adequate introduction.
An ardent long-time supporter of NCSE, the distinguished biologist John A Moore, Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), died in May 2002, a month short of his 87th birthday. John had a passionate commitment to improving the teaching of biology and stressed that evolution is the essential framework on which such teaching must rest.
There can be no future for the human experiment unless a critical mass of involved people understands that the laws of nature constrain our activities and that our solutions to these problems must be based on knowledge and not blind adherence to fads.John edited 6 more volumes in what became a series of Science as a Way of Knowing books written by outstanding biologists.
the modern world and the possibility of truly great improvement of the human condition. They have replaced the primitive view of nature as chaotic, mysterious, and often threatening with a view of the universe and life as responding in patterns that are precise, beautiful, and awe-inspiring. Beyond giving pleasure to the inquisitive, analytical mind, this progress in understanding provides previously unimagined ways to feed the hungry, heal the sick, and lessen toil. Lives are poorly lived when they look out upon a cold, hostile, inscrutable world; lives are enhanced when they look out upon a world with appreciation of its beauty and order and its suitability as a warm and friendly home. It matters little for the great moral and ethical questions facing humanity whether or not the human brain and mind are the consequences of random events in evolution, though scientists are convinced they are. However, it matters a great deal that we use our brains and minds honestly, humanely, intensively, and effectively to preserve and improve the world for ourselves and for generations that follow (p 206).John A Moore had just such a mind, honest and humane, one that worked intensively and effectively to improve the world of biology and of all who knew and interacted with him.